Tag Archives: Play

Unlocked: Eight Monologues. One Lockdown

The lockdown has affected us in different ways – introspective, illuminating, irritating, igniting, isolating. Needless to say, we’ll never be the same again. So, why not combine theatre with technology and capture our lives during the lockdown. EnActe Arts attempts to do just that by bringing together India’s finest actors, most talented playwrights, and some of our best-known directors. 

They, through their diverse stories, give us a tongue-in-cheek perspective on how 150 days of solitude shaped their lives. The eight monologues in Hindi and English vary from the hilarious to the heartwarming, from eureka moments to experiential thoughts. From conversations to unseen companions to stream of consciousness bursts of solo thought.

Enjoy the ride and stay for the talkbacks!

THE MONOLOGUES (All times PST)

  • Fri Jan 8 – 5:30 p.m. 8:30 p.m.
    Sat Jan 9 – 5:30 p.m.
    Sun Jan 10 – 5:30 p..m
    Tickets: $15 
  • For Age: 16+
  • Language: English & Hindi
  • Duration: 90 min (with interval)

AAWAZEIN (Hindi)

Written by Purva Naresh; directed by Rajit Kapur; performed by Seema Biswas

A concerned mother tries to reach out to her daughter in a big city. 

BRAND NEW WORLD (English) 

Written by Adhir Bhat; directed by Q; performed by Veronica Gautam

A hospital intern tries to explain the meaning of lockdown to a patient just out of a coma.

CHAMGAADAD KA INTEQAAM (Hindi) 

Written & performed by Raghav Dutt; directed by Sukant Goel

As Lockdown 1.0 begins, forced to stay back in the madarsa, a young, wayward boy finds his own way to battle both, the pandemic and his fear.

HAAN NANDUBHAI (English)

Written by Rahul da Cunha; directed by Gurleen Judge; performed by Aahana Kumra

A young actress, trapped inside her Goregaon flat feels the effects of the lockdown, her lack of starring roles and pangs of loneliness.

HAWALDAR HAWA SINGH HAAZIR HAI! (Hindi) 

Written by Ashok Mishra; directed by Rajit Kapur; performed by Gagan Dev Riar

An exasperated Hawaldar tries hard to convince people to stay at home.

I’M LOBO LOBO, MEN (English)

Written by Rahul da Cunha, directed by Nadir Khan, performed by Joy Fernandes

A satellite cable repair guy visits the home of a very fussy, CoVid- paranoid couple during lockdown, with hilarious consequences.

MIDDLE CLASS (Hindi)

Written & performed by Hussain Dalal; directed by Akarsh Khurana

A Corona warrior shares his experience as a compounder in a quarantine center and the friendships he made there that changed his life. 

RAASHAN (Hindi)

Written by Abhishek Majumdar; directed by Anand Tiwari; performed by Rajit Kapur 

An upper middle-class man visits the slum in his area to borrow alcohol from his friend.  The piece deals with the relative value of hunger, thirst, and poetry.


Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: mona@indiacurrents.com

A Play on Nehru’s Letters to His Daughter From Prison

In 1928, Jawaharlal Nehru was put in an Allahabad jail during India’s freedom struggle. That summer he started writing letters to his 10-year old daughter, Indira, who was in Mussoorie at the time. In the first series of letters, Book of Nature, he told her the story of how and when the earth was made, how human and animal life began, and how civilizations and societies evolved all over the world. In subsequent letters, he speaks to his daughter on a wide range of topics, including languages, trade, history, geography, science, epics, and evolution.

When Indira was about to turn 13, Nehru started sending her more detailed letters. These letters contained his understanding of the world, his deep commitment to building not only the country’s future, but also his daughter’s as he carefully and sometimes lyrically opens up the world to her from afar, and sets the groundwork for her own ambitious emergence on the world stage years later.

Bringing this rich content to life is Bay Area-based, EnActe Arts with a virtual adaptation of Lavonne Mueller’s Letters to a Daughter from Prison. The original play made its debut in 1988 during the first International Festival of the Arts in New York City before going on to tour India. It has been adapted for this production by Deesh Mariwala (Director), Denzil Smith, and Vinita Sud Belani (Founder and Artistic Director of EnActe Arts). 

Set against the backdrop of the freedom struggle and Gandhi’s non-violent protests, the play reveals the richness of the father-daughter relationship in the formative years, before her eventual emergence on the world stage, as Indira Gandhi.  

The playwright was inspired to write the story because Nehru, the statesman, was being continually separated from his shy, intellectual daughter due to the turmoil that came with the freeing and building of the world’s largest democracy. “They forged the bonds of a loving, nurturing and formative relationship through their detailed, prolific letters to each other. I felt compelled to write this story because I could not find a parallel in the Western world of a statesman father who nurtured his daughter in such a way.” 

The play’s director Deesh Mariwala: “Funnily enough what started as a delving into the lives of two Prime Ministers who shaped the land I grew up in, has become a warm, companionable relationship with two people I have never met, but now feel I know almost intimately.”

“We could not have picked a play more en point for our times and our audiences,” says EnActe Artistic Director Belani. “In a time when conversation is rife on gender roles, and female representation, when the U.S. may possibly have their first female Vice President (with part Indian origins) in the White House, and when the Gandhian style of non-violent protest espoused by Martin Luther King is being reprised in so many countries, the relevance of this play to audiences young and old is unarguable.” 
 
“Assaying the role of Indira across the decades would of course be exhilarating for any actor” says Belani “but it’s also intimidating – hugely so! Portraying a real person requires a commitment to their authenticity, and Indira was not just any person – she was the female Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world for decades.” 
 
“This project is profoundly personal for all four of us,” says Belani. Take Denzil’s relationship with Nehru – he has played Nehru in this play and in other films before; he has also played Nehru’s friend Jinnah. His appreciation of Nehru’s character is deep. Deesh’s family has been a part of the freedom fight with Nehru; he co-wrote a series on the family that got pulled in the 2008 financial crisis. Raashina’s grandfather was a freedom fighter too. I was born in the mid-sixties in Kolkata and my formative years from the mid-sixties to the mid-eighties were influenced almost solely by two incredible women – Indira Gandhi at the helm of the country, and Mother Teresa on the ground. I met Indira once, in person. I still have her autograph! All of my female peers ended up strong, successful career women at the helm of their organizations.”  

What: EnActe Arts Presents Letters to a Daughter From Prison
When: October 23-25 
Time: October 23, 8:30 p.m.; October 24, 5 p.m.; October 25, 7:30 a.m. & 12 p.m. 
Where: Will stream via Zoom
Tickets: $15.00; they can be purchased HERE

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/letters-to-a-daughter-from-prison-tickets-118689983937


Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter, Facebook for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. 

 

The Humans: An Average Family Amidst the Holidays

It’s possible, with art, to create something so real it almost becomes difficult to find meaning in it. The Humans, Stephen Karam’s fascinatingly mundane Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama, exists very firmly in that uncomfortable zone. Without hard scene transitions, music, or anything to bring you out of the story, the play provides a slice of life narrative that is almost excessive in its realism. 

Taking place over the course of a Thanksgiving dinner, the trials and tribulations of the Blake family are slowly unraveled through a long series of freewheeling conversations (and frequently, arguments). By the objective standards of capitalism, each of them has failed in some foundational aspect of their lives. It pushes an uncomfortable interpretation of the American Dream, that having a family that loves you and believing in yourself is not enough. That, at the end of the day, financial success or failure is in your hands, and if you don’t have it, you do not deserve to be happy. 

I can deeply relate to the series of awkward encounters as they play out, that sublime experience of socializing with people you love but don’t really know. This last weekend, I learned my cousin was planning on interning with a government anti-drug organization and was initially very surprised. Upon reflection, though, I realized there was no reason to be surprised my lack of knowledge about his decisions. I could tell you what sports he played in college, his favorite desserts and the name of his first girlfriend. But his values? His biases? His failures? Of these, I could tell you nothing. The play juxtaposes this clash of a family who don’t mesh in humor or personality, with brutal moments of honesty. Beyond that, the characters are fundamentally incapable of being honest with either themselves or each other. 

They express a deep unhappiness at the state of the world without identifying any particular source of this dissatisfaction. Indeed, that is the one criticism I can honestly level at this performance. The Humans is such an earnest and succinct play, that it’s difficult to know what, if anything, one should take away from it. Day to day life, after all, does not come comfortably bundled with inherent meaning. The Blakes struggle with economic uncertainty, trust, love and conflict like any family, and like reality I too struggled to know why it mattered. 

As a technical achievement, however, the San Jose Stage Company’s performance of The Humans is an absolute triumph, and a wonderfully authentic examination of the myriad ways the American Dream can fail.

Graham Smith is a lifelong writer of prose and lover of theater. He lives in San Jose, CA. mostly selling wood veneer, spoiling his parents dog, and purchasing very excellent books he won’t read.

The Music In My Blood: An English Play with Live Hindustani Classical Music

Hypokrit Theatre Company in association with Satvik arts will present the World Premiere of THE MUSIC IN MY BLOOD. It is an original new work by Sonalee Hardikar and Shubhra Prakash. It is a play about Indian music that spans generations and countries and is designed and directed by Sonalee Hardikar.  Original music compositions are by Laxmikant Bongale. Previews of this limited Off-Broadway engagement begins June 6 at American Theatre of Actors. Opening is slated for Sunday, June 10.

Before this the Show has been performed by invitation at the “South Asian theater festival” in Rutgers university alongside works by Mahesh Dattani and Usha Ganguly. It was the opening show at “Natya Darpan” in New Jersey, and an independent stand alone performance at Natya Bharati in the DC metro area.

THE MUSIC IN MY BLOOD crosses the boundaries of time and space to bring together Prema and Walter, two people bound by their love of Indian music. In 1934, Jewish Czech musicologist Walter Kaufmann (1907 – 1984) fled from the Nazis and temporarily resettled in India where he fell in love with the music of his new home land. He became a noted scholar and composer of Asian music and even composed a signature theme song for All India Radio that is still used today. Meanwhile, Prema is born in India to parents from a musical dynasty. When she flees to Brooklyn in the 1980’s to pursue a degree in history Prema discovers the writings of Dr. Kaufmann. Soon, the unlikely pair begin to converse across time and space about music, tradition, culture and heritage.

THE MUSIC IN MY BLOOD features original music performed live by Amod Dandawate, Rucha Muley Jambhekar and Manoj Govindraj.Starring : Monica Sharma, Ariaki Dandawate, Michael Gentile, Toby Miller, Richa Rudola, Meera Narasimhan, Ashok Chaudhary, Gautam Gurnani, Sumend Wankhade, Anand Rao, Miriam Eusebio, and Aanya Rastogi.

The production team includes), Hassan Khan (set construction), Priya Rohatgi (wardrobe and props), and Madison Hartke-Weber (projections).

THE MUSIC IN MY BLOOD runs June 6 – 17, Wednesday – Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday at noon & 5pm. American Theatre of Actors is located at 312 West 54th Street between 8th & 9th Avenues. Tickets are $45, available